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Eminem vs. Trump: Rapper’s new video brings out hypocrisy and tribalism

(Screengrab via BET)

On Tuesday night’s airing of the BET Hip Hop Awards, rapper Eminem eviscerated President Trump in a four-minute freestyle, accusing him of being a white supremacist and trying to start a nuclear holocaust.

It was, by all means, pretty routine for Eminem (whose real name is Marshall Mathers) to go after the president, as he’s done in the past with former President George W. Bush. Mathers called Trump a “bitch” in a recent feature of Big Sean’s “No Favors,” and criticized him on “Campaign Speech.” However, this time, you could tell just how angry and frustrated he’s become with the Trump administration.

“From his endorsement of Bannon/Support for the Klansmen/Tiki torches in hand for the soldier that’s black/And comes home from Iraq/And is still told to go back to Africa,” Mathers rapped.

He even went after his fans who are supporters of Trump, saying, “And any fan of mine who’s a supporter of his/I’m drawing in the sand a line, you’re either for or against/And if you can’t decide who you like more and you’re split/On who you should stand beside, I’ll do it for you with this: Fuck you!”

Now, as someone who’s been riding with Eminem since day one, I’m not disappointed that he criticized Trump or his supporters. However, I am disappointed that he needs to use politics and resort to tribalist tactics of being anti-Trump in order to be viewed as edgy and maintain relevancy. He’s sold between 132 to 155 million albums over his career for being controversial; he doesn’t need the attention.

When Eminem dropped The Slim Shady LP in 1999, he was seen as a source of tension with conservatives, especially when they caught their children listening to his music. My mother, who was much more conservative while I was growing up, was less than pleased when she found out I lied about going to one of his concerts in 2002.

For much of his career, Eminem has been viewed as a polarizing figure. He was against political correctness before many conservatives tried to adopt the label and turn it into something ‘cool.’

However, some conservatives are guilty of lacking moral consistency and resorting to those same tribalist tactics that Mathers used. Defending Trump for his “Access Hollywood” tape in which he bragged about sexually assaulting women and criticizing Eminem for his homophobic and misogynistic lyrics (or rapping about killing his ex-wife, Kim, or how much he hates his mother) in the same breath is doing a disservice. Conservatives, particularly Trump supporters, should criticize both acts as indefensible on moral grounds and maintain a clear conscience.

If Trump is allowed to criticize Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein for his sexual assault allegations that were revealed in the past week, then Eminem should be allowed to go after Trump in the way he did.

My problem is not with Trump or Eminem, but with how everyone responds to the slightest hint of criticism thrown in Trump’s direction. If you hated Eminem before but like him after his Trump freestyle, are you comfortable with embracing his history of misogynist or anti-LGBT lyrics? And if you liked Eminem before and are only now pointing out his faulty moral compass because he went after Trump, then did you even have much of a moral compass to begin with?

These are tough questions that we all need to wrestle with and I understand that no one is a perfect human being. But, until Donald Trump can write a verse where he rhymes the word “orange,” I’m sticking with Team Mathers. In the meantime, let them fight.